Overcoming growth challenges in distribution: Preparing for a strong 2020

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
growth challenges distribution industry

Companies in the distribution industry will face a wide variety of challenges meeting the needs of an increasingly savvy and demanding customer base.

Whether you’re adding SKUs, warehouses, or simply looking to grow your customer base and revenue, successfully growing your distribution business in 2020 may seem like a monumental task. An industry readying itself for disruption, increased competition, and calls for transparency, companies in this industry will face a wide variety of challenges meeting the needs of an increasingly savvy and demanding customer base.

The 2020 distribution outlook

Much like other industries, disruption is on the minds of distributors. As technology continues to improve, buyers expect the B2B purchasing experience to become more commoditized and similar to their B2C experiences, and your customers are finding new ways to use data to drive purchase decisions.

Three forces challenging the status quo.

A recent McKinsey article found that the coming year will see an acceleration to disruption coming from three forces—your competition, your customers, and your own supply chain.

Fast-moving digital players eyeing the industry’s trillion-dollar revenue pools have begun to offer more convenience and improved transparency. Paired with this, sophisticated customers armed with new data are demanding deeper discounts and better promotions on more commoditized products.

How to address this: Keep up with your customers and competition.

Transparency, speed, and responsiveness are all imperative to the way you run your business. Whether by thriving in the commoditized environment or by making the shift to provide even more value-add, whichever approach you take needs to be smarter.

With countless customer-SKU combinations and constant margin pressure from manufacturers on one end and customers on the other, it pays to use the right customer data at the right time. The best distributors equip sales staff to act as business partners who can identify customer pain points and co-create business solutions. To make this happen, you need to break down silos and empower your sales staff with the right information at the right time.

The right customer relationship management solution, integrated with your ERP and warehouse management solutions, can go a long way in providing your sales, marketing, and customer service staff with the right information to help customers. Better yet, it can provide your warehouse the ability to fill orders more quickly and ultimately give you more speed if you need to succeed in a commoditized environment. Check out the following resources to learn more:

Finding a way to maintain or increase margins

With increased competition, faster shipping expectations, and continued wage pressure, distributors need to find ways to make sure their products continue to work for them. Your ability to maintain or even increase profit margins in 2020 and beyond will become even more important. Success in the coming decade will rely on your ability to retain customers, replace departing ones, and deliver in a distribution environment that is increasingly transaction focused.

How to address this: Smarter scaling.

There are ways to address this, however. Scale will continue to be an important factor. Scale helps distributors gain purchasing power, create denser delivery routes, optimize warehouse locations, increase coverage of products and sales, and reduce redundancies.

However, knowing how, where, and when to scale is vital. Whether through mergers and acquisitions, focusing on specific products, or expanding your reach, each provides a way to increase margins if approached properly. There are many ways to approach this; an engaged leadership team, well-resourced integration office and functional teams, a rigorous cadence, and careful performance management top the list.

Also imperative to scale? An understanding of your current business. One tool to help you see the bigger picture is through business intelligence. Such a solution can provide better planning and inventory management, increased profit margins, and more control of delivery, accuracy, and customer service. We recently discussed this topic in a blog, ERP and business intelligence in the distribution industry.

New technologies

New data and advances in computing power, data storage, analytics, and mobile platforms are turning industries as varied as music and healthcare upside down. Wholesale distribution is not immune, of course. Predictive and prescriptive analytics are helping the most sophisticated customers and manufacturers use dynamic pricing, predict churn, and optimize workforces and capital.

How to address this: Embrace new technology yourself

While new entrants, current competition, and buyers are leveraging new technology, it’s important to recognize that you’re not excluded from the technological improvements.

Whether it’s in the form of automated warehouse operations to speed up delivery, an investment in the future of autonomous vehicles to replace an increasingly expensive shipping landscape, or software to automate, improve visibility, and increase control, there are many opportunities to stay ahead of the curve in the coming years.

One of the first steps to taking control of your distribution business is to leverage technology that empowers people, provides visibility, and accelerates your business, helping you move faster, identify opportunities for growth, and move on them.

Taking control of your distribution operations with ERP

Finding a flexible, user friendly, and innovative ERP solution can connect your business and help you grow. With the competitive landscape more intense than ever, the right ERP can go a long way in getting your business where you need it to be.

Acumatica provides accurate and timely information, as well as the functionality needed to readily resolve issues and update management and customers. Our modern distribution business software provides true, company-wide inventory data that lets you create proactive, responsive replenishment operations and minimize inventory costs.

As a leading provider of this powerful cloud ERP, NexTec Group can help you implement this software and use it to stand up to the competition in 2020 and beyond. With more than a dozen locations and nearly a quarter of a century of experience in the distribution industry, you will be in good hands. No matter how large you are or complex your needs, we would love to help. Let’s get in touch.

ERP solutions

Outgrowing QuickBooks: completing an ROI and vendor analysis

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
QuickBooks migration ROI analysis

One of the hardest parts of an ERP decision is whether or not you can afford to make a move now. However, if your business is growing rapidly, you may notice that even if the cost of your current product is extremely low—if you continue to push accounting software past its sell-by date, you are putting the future of your company at risk.

When you’re outgrowing an entry-level accounting software like QuickBooks, you begin to see the signs. The days get longer, the software starts processing a bit slower, and you begin to worry if your reports are as accurate as they should be.

If you’ve begun to notice any of these signs, congratulations, it means your business is growing! However, it also signals that your business needs to take its next steps, moving from accounting software to true enterprise resource planning software.

This is a time when inaction and haste are both risky. Move too slow and the migration process becomes more complex and costly. Move too fast with the wrong vendor or partner and you could face implementation failure—a situation in which you never recoup the investment promised.

Following our last blogs on communicating a change and securing buy-in from your executive team and end users, we would today like to turn our attention to the next step in your ERP journey: ROI and vendor analysis.

Getting the return you need: completing a return on investment (ROI) analysis.

One of the most important stages in the ERP decision journey, the ROI calculation process takes place at two stages for many companies. Early on, many companies will use an ROI calculator to decide whether an ERP upgrade makes sense. Later, you will take the information you receive from vendors in a quote to determine which one will provide you with a product that will pay for itself quickly.

Often, you may need to complete a capital expense justification (return on investment or ROI analysis) before committing to an ERP system. An ROI analysis identifies both direct and indirect benefits of an upgrade to give you a metrics-based argument on whether you can afford to make a move, how quickly such a move will pay for itself, and how much the investment will generate over its life.

This identifies the upfront costs pertaining to the investment, compares ongoing costs for your current and replacement product, and highlights the benefits associated with a decision.

Upfront costs: how much will it cost to purchase and implement a product?

One of the hardest parts of an ERP decision is whether or not you can afford to make a move now. However, if your business is growing rapidly, you may notice that even if the cost of your current product is extremely low—if you continue to push accounting software past its sell-by date, you are putting the future of your company at risk.

Calculating upfront costs will provide you information in pitching executives on a product and will allow you to compare vendors. When looking at ERP costs, include the following:

  • Computer hardware, operating system, database, networking, and tools including installation, startup and testing
  • Application software (ERP) license, installation, tailoring, data conversion/loading
  • Procedure development, testing and documentation
  • User training
  • Vendor and consultation assistance with implementation

A common mistake, however, is the assumption that hardware and licensing costs need to be paid up front. Not anymore. The cloud has lowered the initial costs of an ERP upgrade, greatly reducing the capital expenses that come from a move. Rather, businesses can pay a subscription fee over the life of the product.

Ongoing costs: how do different options stack up?

With an understanding of the implementation costs, now you need to turn your attention to the ongoing costs. A good basis for comparison between potential products, this analysis determines how much it will cost to run an IT department under both, how much each will cost in terms of licensing and maintenance fees, and how much it will cost to expand or extend the system.

Direct benefits of implementing ERP

Often the real selling point of a new ERP system comes from the benefits it provides. An ERP implementation offers direct benefits like cost savings, cost avoidance, revenue and profit. These come from four key areas:

  • Having greater visibility to demand and schedules.
  • Closer management of materials, equipment and personnel.
  • The ability to better manage workflow and production schedules.
  • Greater coordination of resources to efficiently deliver the right products in the right quantities at the right time.

For example, better management of inventory reduces cost of goods sold. It also prevents costs associated with last minute changes.

Indirect benefits of implementing ERP

It also offers a variety of indirect benefits. While productivity, integration, and minimal overtime are great in a cost-savings analysis, they also provide peace of mind for employees. An employee who doesn’t need to toil away for hours on a spreadsheet is going to feel more comfortable. Better accuracy is going to help you make more levelheaded decisions, and anytime access could even reduce the number of workers coming in sick this winter. Learn more about some of the peace of mind benefits of ERP here.

Talking to the right people: finding the right vendor for you.

With dozens of ERP options available, it can be overwhelming to sort through the pros and cons of all of them. Additionally, many vendors provide the same core functionality, making it challenging to find the right vendor.

Functionality may seem like the most basic requirement when looking for a solution. However, it can’t be the only requirement. Software needs to be usable, mature, and able to work with other products—all while offering a support network that can help you.

Functionality: does it do what it’s supposed to do?

One of the most important steps is to speak with users and document the must-have features, the ones you will need in the future, and the ones that are merely nice to have. Understanding what your people need is vital to adoption and necessary for documenting needs.

If you’ve already documented your needs, you will save a lot of time during this stage and be able to focus it on the other four categories.

Maturity: how long have they been in the business?

It’s nice to have the “latest and greatest,” but it’s risky to be on the “bleeding edge” of technology. You should look for a system that has been field tested and proven in actual use… in your industry. Finding a vendor who is both a proven commodity in the industry and one who has continually put its efforts into innovation is necessary for getting what you need—now and in the future. Look for a proven vendor who offers big updates consistently, often twice a year.

A vendor who is in it for the long run.

Your ERP provider will be a partner for the long term, not just a supplier of a product. Be as sure as you can be that they will be around for the long haul. Check their financial stability – do they have the resources to support the product in the coming years? Look at their track record for clues about how well they support customers and improve the product over time. A good place to look for this is through the Gartner Magic Quadrant, an analysis of market presence and ability to execute.

A community of partners ready to make the product work for you.

Look for a community consisting of implementation and consulting partners, satisfied users, as well as user groups, discussion threads and conferences. These resources provide considerable added value beyond what you get from the supplier.

Look for a vendor who has a highly-rated partner program, who puts a lot of effort into empowering partners, and find a partner who has the size and scope to help you. Read this blog to learn more.

Honesty and credibility.

If something sounds too good to be true, it just might be. In today’s cloud market, many vendors have repurposed their products to call them “cloud.” Often, however, these fake cloud products end up providing less than they promise, surprising you with less than adequate support, higher implementation costs, insufficient user training or additional costs for necessary software, services or assistance.

Do your due diligence and get to know the difference between true cloud and fake cloud here.

The journey beyond QuickBooks is a long but rewarding one.

When you begin to outgrow QuickBooks, you are facing one of the most exciting challenges that exists. However, knowing when and how to make a move is often a challenge, and as mentioned above, both haste and delay are dangerous. However, with the right information and advice, your move from QuickBooks to ERP could be a smooth transition that benefits your business for years or decades.

NexTec can help you understand your options. For our growing small and mid-size (SMB) clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our workcompare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Webinar: Improve your field service management with Acumatica Cloud ERP

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Events, Field Services, Upcoming Webcasts | No Comments

Transform your business with Acumatica Cloud ERP, an integrated financial and business management solution designed for field services. With Acumatica, field service organizations are able to manage field technicians more efficiently, improve resource scheduling and planning, better manage inventory and reduce inventory stock and much more.

During our webcast, we’ll demonstrate specific functionalities including:

  • Understanding the benefits of Cloud ERP
  • Enable your field techs with key information to properly service their customers
  • Improve inventory management at the warehouse and in the field
  • Improve work order management including escalation management
  • Gain efficiencies in scheduling your service calls
  • And much more!

If you are not able to attend the webcast, please register and we will send you the recording.

Register today
Outgrowing QuickBooks

Non-traditional integrations: Is it possible to get a perfect fit from ‘competitors’?

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, CRM, ERP, Salesforce | No Comments
ERP and CRM integrations

Tight integration saves you time and money, reduces the risk for errors, and simplifies a variety of processes including quote-to-cash, manufacturing management, customer service, and so much more.

A few years back, fast food giant Burger King released a marketing campaign for “Peace Day” on September 21, in which the company propositioned McDonald’s through a series of tweets and full-page newspaper ads to set aside their differences for one day to create the “McWhopper.” While ultimately dismissed, it brought up a good question, one that many questions have to ask when they are looking at business management software: Is it possible to get two competitors to work together?

The answer is yes, and for some companies, it may be the best path to finding a perfect fit if they are looking for ERP or other business management software.

There are many paths to a perfect fit in ERP software.

We’ve been spending a lot of time recently talking about the concept of a perfect fit in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. There is good reason for this. If you’re like many decision makers at organizations, you know that the last time your company looked into a solution, 80 percent fit was considered acceptable.

Today, however, the market has changed, and an 80 percent fit is considered as table stakes, just enough for a vendor to get in the door. That last 20 percent is very possible and vendors have worked to provide the flexibility, integration, and usability to deliver this in the “postmodern ERP” environment.

There are a variety of ways to get here; some can get a solution built with few changes, many companies need extensive customization, while others can get what they want by using point solutions for unique needs connected through their marketplace.

The challenge: Bringing on a product your ERP already offers.

However, what if your business management solution features a product that would put it in competition with another vendor? There are many examples of this, including your choice of ecommerce vendor to establish your web presence, business intelligence solution to analyze data, and field service management products to manage technicians.

Each product is generally offered as part of an ERP suite, but many businesses either want to minimize the challenges that come with a complete overhaul or stick with a solution that works. One place where this really is prevalent? Customer relationship management (CRM) software.

A majority of ERP providers want to deliver a complete solution for businesses, and for those who do, many pride themselves on offering a functional and usable CRM product.

However, when you look at CRM, there is an elephant in the room, one that is loved by its users and used by over half of businesses. It’s the number one CRM for sales and customer service, and its name is Salesforce.

ERP and CRM integration can’t be ignored. Connecting Acumatica and Salesforce

So, you may think to yourself, “we already use Salesforce” if you’re in the process of an ERP change or “most of our staff already knows Salesforce” if you’re considering a complete business software overhaul that includes both ERP and CRM.

Now, you also know how hard it is to organize your entire sales and marketing staff for training sessions. You also know that if you already use Salesforce, your staff may balk at moving away from it, creating implementation risk that results from not having everyone on board.

CRM and ERP integration delivers more than data sharing.

ERP and CRM integration is a necessity for a variety of reasons. Tight integration saves you time and money, reduces the risk for errors, and simplifies a variety of processes including quote-to-cash, manufacturing management, customer service, and so much more. Something we’ve discussed in-depth in our blog titled ERP plus CRM: More than the sum of its parts, proper integration can’t be overlooked, as it provides:

  • Seamless data sharing
  • Optimized resources management
  • Faster delivery cycles
  • Improved forecasting
  • More consistency
  • Better reporting
  • A uniquely tailored product for industries who need increased visibility and control.

Connecting Acumatica ERP and Salesforce CRM

Now, as we’ve discussed, your company needs ERP and CRM to integrate, integrate tightly, and do so with as little hassle as possible. Luckily, there are ways to make this happen—even if the two may seem to be in direct competition with one another.

Thanks to its 2018 acquisition of MuleSoft, Salesforce gained the ability to reach into other applications and pull in data without needing to clean or scrub it. That means no need to build data warehouses or rely on third-party middleware customizations to use data from multiple systems. Consolidating data in one place, without disrupting its source formatting or properties, is a far better choice.

Bringing Acumatica and Salesforce together still requires the right intermediary. Get to know NexTec.

ERP and Salesforce integrations are transformative opportunities. While integration may be easier than ever, and everyone may promise that they have the skills to integrate these two, the best partner is one who knows both products inside and out. NexTec Group happens to be that partner.

Managing an ERP and Salesforce integration requires a steady, experienced, detailed-focused partner, and few have the size, scale, scope, and expertise to deliver both Salesforce and Acumatica. NexTec does. This also makes us uniquely qualified to integrate the two products.

NexTec offers expert consultants and project managers with deep expertise in ERPs, Salesforce and integration strategies. Contact us to learn more about how NexTec is the right choice to lead your integration project.

Farmer sitting in a green house typing on a laptop.

Enterprise resource planning and sustainability in agriculture

By | Agriculture, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Farmer in a large greenhouse typing on a laptop computer.

Agricultural businesses need the right ERP to fully commit to sustainability efforts.

While sustainability is an important issue in many industries, it’s critically important in agriculture. Technology, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, can play an important role in sustainability for agribusinesses.

When it comes to enterprise resource planning and sustainability in agriculture, Sage X3 has the functionality and industry-specific features that help companies thrive.

Defining sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is a focus on practices that provide for society’s current food needs without jeopardizing future generations’ ability to meet their needs. Sustainability in agribusiness means maintaining a healthy environment while continuing to be profitable.

The challenge is that for many big agribusinesses, sustainability has not always been a top priority. A recent Medium article notes that at big farms “ideas around environmental sustainability are not only a low priority, they’re simply not discussed.” At smaller farms, while there is more discussion of sustainability, it’s sometimes just used for marketing purposes.

“Many of the farmers who care the most about sustainability can’t afford to put it into practice,” the article notes. “Raising plants and animals in a way that benefits (or at least doesn’t harm) the earth, the farmworkers, the animals, and the consumers is incredibly expensive. And Americans don’t like to pay a lot for food.”

Two farmers walking in their field.

Retailers and consumers alike are demanding more commitment to sustainability.

Why technology will make a difference

The reality is that the importance of sustainability is growing, driven by both corporations and customers.

On the corporate side, retailers are looking to their suppliers to demonstrate a commitment to and actions that drive sustainability across the board. Walmart, for example, has implemented a Sustainability Index program. The index collects and analyzes data on each product’s lifecycle, working with suppliers to improve sustainability efforts. Walmart provides suppliers with their scores, how they rank in comparison with other suppliers in the same field, and insights on how to improve sustainability.

At a more granular level, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil requires companies to comply with environmental and social criteria to be certified as a sustainable product.

Consumers are driving some of the corporate work, while the use of social media allows for consumer voices to be amplified and connected on sustainability issues.

For agribusinesses, having an ERP that tracks and demonstrates sustainability is critical. In many cases, these issues relate to inefficiencies in supply chain management. Here are some of the ways the right ERP solution can help:

  • Resource Efficiency. Supply chain optimization can reduce transportation mileage at each stage, reducing emissions and environmental impact.
  • Shipment Management. When suppliers and partners are not communicating well or have inadequate, incorrect or different information, shipments, ingredients, and products suffer.
  • Inventory Management. Agile supply chain management means a responsive, flexible and quick approach to day-to-day operations. This approach may have the greatest impact on inventory management, with real-time data on existing stock and expiration dates to ensure that the right ingredients and products are used in the right order.
  • Wastage Management. When you have better systems for predicting usage and tracking your supply chain, you can reduce the amount of waste, a powerful measure that can be used internally and externally.

Sage X3 provides agribusinesses with integrated functions designed to serve the industry. NexTec provides guidance on the selection, implementation, and optimization of agriculture ERP solutions.

Learn more about how Sage and NexTec can help your agribusiness improve its commitment to sustainability. Take a free tour of Sage X3 to learn more.

 

Digital transformation in the distribution industry

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments
digital transformation distribution

Your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

Distribution is a tough business. High levels of competition, shrinking margins, and higher expectations make it easy to feel the pressure. The supply chain is changing and with this, so is the market. And guess what? You’re right in the middle of it.

Remaining competitive in distribution will rely on a variety of tactics and strategies, but if you’re looking to get and stay ahead, you will need to transform your business and find new ways to use data, analytics, and engagement.

For the distribution industry, whose members are already pressured by competition from everyone ranging from traditional competitors to firms including Amazon and Wal-Mart, your ability to use data will rely on your ability to digitize, gaining the speed, reliability, and control you need to take on advancing competition.

What is digital transformation?

One of those phrases that has gotten thrown around a lot in recent years has been the term “digital transformation.” A term that could include anything from going paperless in the office to a complete overhaul of the way your business operates, it all starts with understanding how to apply technology—something we discussed in a recent blog.

In the blog, we used definitions from Technopedia, finding that

“Digital transformation is the changes associated with digital technology application and integration into all aspects of human life and society. […] Digital tools and technology are changing how people interact, and in turn this changes how people do business. […] In a more business-related aspect, digital transformation refers to how a company has or is transforming its core business processes using digital technology in order to gain competitive advantage and gain differentiation in its market segment.”

However, there are also challenges for companies in every industry, as too many leaders think it’s both a standard process and a metamorphosis, and that they will walk into work one day with a ‘transformed’ business. This is not the case. Digital transformation not only differs from industry to industry, it differs from company to company.

Early steps for distributors looking to transform

Knowing this, it is helpful to find a starting point and early steps, including the process of identifying where you stand, what technologies you currently have, where you hope to be, and what actions you will need to take to get to your ideal state.

Knowing where your distribution firm and your supply chain stand

As mentioned above, digital transformations are happening at different levels across all industries. As the company who often connects manufacturers or other suppliers to retailers and in turn end users, you have watched both sides adopt new digital technologies in their own ways. While this has likely changed the way you’re working with them, your competitive advantage will be built on your ability to embrace the changes they have put on you.

Addressing this will require you to take a hard look at your current business practices, technologies, and understand how you will fit into the supply chain.

Looking at your technology stack

From the c-suite to the ground-floor employees, every team member should understand why adopting digital technologies, cloud ERP software and emerging technologies (e.g. IoT, AI, robotics, next gen security), is absolutely necessary for being able to exchange data across the organization. This information can then be used to make strategic, effective decisions, meeting modern expectations from across the supply chain, and innovation.

A solid technology foundation and a clear digital strategy—which includes asking the right questions, setting clear goals and the steps to achieving them, getting input from people throughout the organization, and providing ongoing informational and training sessions—will keep the transformation moving forward.

Understanding what you will need

The digital changes also provide a window for distribution companies to rethink business models. Companies need to consider whether they will become disruptive players or are at risk of being disrupted by upstarts or competitors.

For distribution companies, this starts with being able to understand your products better. How did they get there, where are they, and how do you get them to your customers? What’s profitable? How can we do something faster, cheaper, or better than our competitors?

As we discussed in an earlier blog, there are four key components to making a digital transformation a reality: cloud computing, mobile technologies, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics.

Making your move: Acumatica Cloud ERP delivers for distribution

Distribution management is Cloud ERP software that helps companies manage their supply chain and logistics activities, including warehouse management, inventory management, and order management (sales and purchase orders), and integrate these activities with the company’s financials and sales. With Acumatica Cloud ERP, distribution companies can leverage technology that empowers them, improving everything from cost control to order times, supplier relationships to customer satisfaction.

As a leading provider of Acumatica for distribution, NexTec can customize, implement, and integrate the solution, training your users and setting you up for success in a digital world. Get to know more about our work and contact us for a free consultation.

Webinar: Software to overcome challenges in the cannabis edibles and infused beverages market

By | Cannabis, Events, Food and Beverage, Sage X3, Upcoming Webcasts | No Comments

Join our cannabis and food and beverage industry experts for our webcast where they will discuss the current edibles and infused beverages market and the marketing, operational and distribution challenges companies face. Learn how our CannaBusiness ERP solution, built on Sage X3, can help you overcome these challenges.

Webcast Agenda:

  •  Market overview
  • Marketing Challenges
  • Operational Challenges
  • Distribution Challenges
  • Demo

If you are not able to attend the webcast, please register and we will send you the recording.

Register today
Man in a hard hat pointing to pipes.

Ask these 6 questions before choosing your chemical industry ERP

By | Chemicals, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Man in a hardhat pointing to pipes.

Chemical companies looking for an ERP should make sure to ask questions about key functions and capabilities.

There’s no question chemical companies need a powerful enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Faced with more regulations than ever and increasingly complex supply chains, companies need to choose an ERP that’s designed to address specific industry challenges.

Before choosing a chemical ERP, it’s important to get the right information. Ask these 6 questions before choosing your chemical industry ERP.

1. Can your ERP track and display inventory in multiple units of measure?

Different measurement units for weights and volume are necessary in the chemical industry, and your ERP should be able to support and convert measures for use in receiving, storing, making and selling products. Static conversions are inadequate when there are density variances, for example, in lots or batches. Conversions and flexibility are necessary when multiple packaging sizes are used for the same product.

2. Can actual costs be tracked and compared to estimated costs?

Tracking actuals compared to estimated costs is an important consideration for chemical companies. Understanding inventory valuations and accurate production costs gives you powerful insights. They allow comparisons against industry or historical standards, input error reductions and inclusion of non-production costs to provide more accurate overall costs of goods.

3. Is your ERP agile?

Customer expectations and demands are changing rapidly. That’s why you need an ERP that can respond to changing customer needs and wants. You want to be sure that the ERP you select can anticipate and react quickly to rapidly changing customer requests, products, partners and suppliers. Your ERP needs to be able to adapt and add classifications, formulas, specifications, byproducts and business rules to accommodate the ever-evolving customer needs.

Man in a hard hat working on a tablet.

Chemical companies need an ERP that can optimize new and emerging technologies.

4. Can your ERP incorporate emerging technologies?

Big data and data analytics give chemical companies extraordinary opportunities for more efficient operations and deeper insights. Make sure your chemical ERP uses or easily integrates with these technologies to collect, use and distribute data to those who need it. Your ERP should provide greater transparency both internally and throughout the supply chain.

5. How does your ERP keep data secure?

Data is increasingly an asset for use both within your business and, unfortunately, by hackers. Keeping data protected while in transit and at rest is critically important, especially for regulatory compliance. While your ERP cannot be the sole source of your company’s data security solution, it should have functionality and intersectionality with your security mechanisms.

6. What mobile functionality is available?

Executives need access to dashboards, reports and data no matter where they are or what device they are using. Ask about the functionality and access to information across mobile devices. The same information accessible on a desktop computer should be available on a tablet or smartphone.

Sage X3 offers your chemical company:

  • Supply optimization to respond to customer demands and frequent changes to purchasing, production and shipping
  • Process and product consistency to ensure quality, consistency, safety and efficacy
  • Global compliance across currencies, regions and regulations
  • Inventory control to deliver accurate production forecasting, material needs and inventory optimization
  • Anytime/anywhere access with web-based interfaces

NexTec is a Sage Platinum Reseller, offering chemical companies the expertise to deploy and optimize your Sage X3 solution and provide swift ROI. Learn more about how NexTec and Sage X3 can improve efficacy and efficiency for your chemical company. Give Sage X3 a try.

ERP integrations

The power of connections; why integration is a key part of postmodern ERP

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP | No Comments
ERP integrations

When speaking with vendors and implementation partners, it’s vital to ask whether the solution will integrate, how easy this can be done, and how automatic the workflows are.

As the speed of business increases, the necessity of finding a solution that works for your business increases as well. However, we no longer live in the one-size-fits-all world of monolithic ERP, and today’s businesses have more options than ever.

Following our last blog on the customization imperative that exists and the reasons postmodern ERP delivers for the unique needs of different industries, we would today like to turn our attention to the other part of customization: Integration.

When customized ERP only gets you close to perfect.

Postmodern ERP solutions like Acumatica are built around the company using the application. Through their industry editions, Acumatica Extensions marketplace, and a well-trained partner base, it’s easy for postmodern ERP solutions to get you 90 or 95 percent of the way to perfect.

Still much better than the “build your business around the product” mentality of the past, the postmodern ERP design allows you to get even more from your solution. However, this requires you to understand the last mile and the potential challenges you will need to overcome when it comes to the concept of postmodern ERP.

This said, if you are prepared to address and partner with a firm ready to overcome the pitfalls that could result from a postmodern ERP initiative, you can ultimately make your job easier.

Challenges in the last mile of a postmodern ERP initiative.

Complexity

Any time something is decentralized—or federated, in the words of Gartner analyst Christy Pettey—you add new layers of complexity to your business. While a solution may be able to do a single task more easily or make one department’s job less stressful, if improperly managed, it sometimes makes other tasks harder.

Complexity doesn’t have to overtake your business—it just needs to be addressed. Think of it like having a two-car wide driveway and buying a third car for your family. If you plan around each person’s schedules, you can avoid any unexpected maneuvering.

To address this, organizations need to understand the landscape of systems they currently have, the ones they intend to implement, and plan on a strategy to overcome the complexity. Often, the process of handling this could be as simple as developing a workflow or finding an integration.

Training

With a varying stack of applications comes multiple user interfaces, workflows, and processes. Though many solutions are more user friendly than ever, and with the right integration these solutions will work together, additional training will likely be required up front to make ongoing use easier.

As part of a larger initiative, you will need to invest in training on a broader range of systems, understanding when updates and changes will come throughout the year and planning for them.

Governance

If data is fragmented, maintaining quality becomes a challenge. This will become even more complex as data sources become more diverse.

To address this, proper governance becomes more important than ever in the postmodern ERP landscape. Ensuring things are in order before you make the move to implement solutions can prevent any unexpected challenges or potential for mismanagement.

Preparing for the move to postmodern ERP

Though many may be focused on the concept of digital transformation, your decision to embrace postmodern ERP will require preparation, planning, and the right partner.

Knowing this, the goal is to understand that systems will be more deconstructed than ever.

Start with a strong core

With postmodern ERP, there is still a core ERP, either as an on-premises or cloud solution, and this core is extended with certain specialist solutions. The core ERP would for example cover such areas as procurement, financials and order management, while special solutions will be implemented to meet specific needs.

In the decision to implement a postmodern ERP strategy, the core ERP product should be a top priority. Not only should the product be both functional and usable to make training easy and processes fast, developers should build the solution understanding that it is not the only product being used.

Understand the importance of integration

When speaking with vendors and implementation partners, it’s vital to ask whether the solution will integrate, how easy this can be done, and how automatic the workflows are. Integration is often an ‘easier said than done’ process for some vendors, and if you’re not prepared for integration initiatives, you can easily lose track of the complexity that exists.

According to Panorama, a vital component to managing pre- and post-integration is the ongoing management. After different components have been integrated, individual solution providers may change a component of their software. If that is the case, a refinement of the original integration may be required.

This makes the importance of finding a partner with the right skills all the more important, as the stack of applications you’re using will be unique to you, and your partner should have the expertise to make this work.

The right vendor, the right partner, the right solution

It’s hard to emphasize just how important a strong, easily integrated core ERP is to the larger solution-based landscape.

For example, one of the most common requirements is to integrate ERP with CRM. While there are many benefits, this is a surprisingly complicated request—especially if you want to use multiple vendors.

Few solutions exist that can provide the flexibility, integration, and functionality growing businesses need, and fewer still exist that are right for your business in the first place.

Acumatica Cloud ERP is built for these two concerns. An ERP solution that can be as broad or as narrow as you need it to be, you can easily connect the product to other necessary products your business needs to thrive.

Finding the right partner to help with your ERP selection, implementation and optimization is critical. NexTec has helped hundreds of customers identify, adopt and use business software solutions that transform companies. Learn more about ERP.

Farmer holding fresh tomatoes.

How Sage X3 benefits agricultural produce growers

By | Agriculture, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Farmer holding fresh tomatoes in his hands.

Agribusinesses need effective business management software to deliver real-time insights.

Produce growers have complex challenges to ensure that products are fresh, safe to consume and flavorful. But with increasing operational costs and lower prices, agricultural producers need to do more to reduce waste and improve profitability.

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution like Sage X3 gives your agricultural business the ability to automate, trace and report on production at every stage. Here’s a look at how Sage X3 benefits agricultural produce growers.

Challenges for agribusiness

Fresh produce companies are facing complicated times, with price constraints, increasing costs, more legislative control, political uncertainty with international markets and scarce resources. Here are some of the major issues facing agribusiness:

  • Compliance. New regulations, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act, have placed additional regulatory burdens on manufacturers and producers. New obligations require more tracking of pesticides and fertilizers used, storage processes, security and customers. A quality control program integrated into your work processes is critical.
  • Cost Pressure. Agribusinesses today face narrow margins that can be thrown haywire with the slightest disruption. The right ERP can give you real-time insights to make smarter, more profitable decisions.
  • Political Uncertainty. Ongoing trade disputes with key global customers have meant agribusinesses are often stuck in the middle.
  • Customer Expectations. Customers expect products today that are local, organic and grown using sustainable practices. They increasingly want flavors and products from around the globe.

The complexities and challenge make it clear that the right ERP can make a major difference.

Farmer using a tablet in a field.

Your business deserves an ERP solution that automates, manages and optimizes your operation.

What an industry-specific ERP provides

An agricultural ERP can deliver the tools and collaboration that will improve your business at every level. With an industry-specific ERP solution, your business benefits from having:

  • A centralized system that can automate processes and manage information and reporting across sales, supply chain, inventory and accounting using a single database
  • Comprehensive management of your growing operations, including harvest details and attributes
  • Optimized planning for the season with specificity options down to the day and/or the crop, including seed and fertilizer inputs, employee and machinery scheduling and harvest analytics
  • Effective inventory management tools such as expiration data tracking and first-in-first-out processes to reduce spoilage and waste
  • Data security
  • Forecasting, management and analytics on crop estimates, maturity dates, pricing using current and historical data
  • Scalability to expand as demand and needs evolve
  • Compliance management that ensures adherence to multiple regulatory mandates, including the elimination of manual processes with automated data capturing, monitoring and reporting while reducing the risk of errors

Sage X3 is the right ERP for agribusinesses looking to improve efficiency, reduce costs, provide transparency and act quickly. With a deep understanding of agribusiness’ needs, Sage delivers an ERP that features:

  • Integrated processes including planting, harvesting, accounting, supply chain, retail operations, farm management, imports and exports, human resources, contracts and sales management
  • Cost calculation functions for accurate costing, forecasting, pricing and analytics about farms, contractors and machines
  • End-to-end traceability
  • Management of formulas, recipes, byproducts, potency, shelf life and packaging

NexTec helps agribusinesses select, deploy and optimize business software and is a Sage Platinum Reseller. Learn more about how NexTec and Sage can transform your agribusiness.

Take a free tour of Sage X3.